Monday, April 11, 2011

The Baseball Gods

At times like this, it's tough sledding for Ron Gardenhire.

The manager is surely as frustrated as anyone by his team's early offensive funk, doing everything in his power to turn things around. Yesterday, he gave Michael Cuddyer a start at second base and uncharacteristically wrote in Joe Mauer at catcher for a day game following a night game.

It was the best offensive lineup he could possibly put on the field against Brandon McCarthy and the A's, but the results were the same as ever. The Twins fell 5-3, marking the seventh time in nine games  that they've been held to three runs or less.

At this point, there's not much Gardenhire can do other than pray that the baseball gods hurry up and show some mercy.

Mauer is hitting .233 with a .570 OPS. Delmon Young is hitting .188 with a .431 OPS. Cuddyer is hitting .107 with a stunningly bad .301 OPS.

Looking up and down the Twins' lineup, you find numbers like this almost across the board. Yesterday Gardenhire trotted out his 'A' lineup and when the game ended only two members of that group were hitting above .258. The team has managed a total of three home runs -- and allowed four times as many.

Ugly early-season trends tend to cause a lot of panic, but ultimately they almost always even out. You may recall that over the first couple months of the 2010 season the Twins struggled mightily with the bases loaded, but they went on to finish the campaign with a robust .320 batting average in such situations.

Mauer and the rest of the the gents powering the Twins lineup are very good hitters. It's odd to see so many of them slump simultaneously at the outset of the season, but there's virtually no doubt that those bats will ramp up, and soon.

But how soon?

Gardenhire can only hope that it will be this week, as the Twins host a Royals team that's opened with a surprising 6-3 record.

What better time than now for reality to set in for both clubs?


Anonymous said...

This team starts slowly every year and I don't understand it. This Then forces them into a mad dash to make the playoffs. Maybe this is one reason they struggle so much in round 1.

Anonymous said...

Except last year? Where they were comfortablly in the lead...

The Scruffy Rube said...

It feels sometimes like we get into team wide streaks. Where, once a couple of guys struggle, others put pressure on themselves to hit well and end up struggling at the plate because of the increased pressure. (See: any game at Yankee stadium or in the playoffs)

Am I wrong to see psychology at play here? (Since I study it, I probably see it more often than it's really there.) Is there a general problem with their swings or a secret pitching plan that certain opponents exploit when they face us?

Ed Bast said...

"...secret pitching plan that certain opponents exploit when they face us?"

Yes, start lefties.

Jack Steal said...

Gardy and his staff are the problem and need to go...6-21 lifetime in the playoffs with 12 straight losses in row sure indicate his incompetence. The Wild have went in another direction and it's time for the Twins.

In other news J.J. Hardy was put on the DL after 8 games. Oh well you can still dream about him. I bad Alexi Casilla on the field is better than Hardy on the DL.

Anonymous said...

Here's one human that expects the Twins to sweep the Royals. If Royals sweep however then one thing you don't have to worry about this year is the Twins getting swept in the playoffs.

Zeus Cannon
(With a Max Ammo)

Nick N. said...

I bad Alexi Casilla on the field is better than Hardy on the DL.

I'd sure be more comfortable if Casilla was filling in for 2-3 weeks rather than the entire season.

Ed Bast said...

You have to hand it to Gardy, this team is somehow already in playoff mode. This last series was absolutely excrutiating to watch. The only thing I didn't hear were payroll/bad luck/injuries/payroll excuses for the bad play, which is a good thing, I guess - the last thing this team needs is more excuses.

I hope the bats wake up, but until then I don't think I can subject myself to the lifeless, cringe-inducingly awful play this team is currently exhibiting. Nick, let me know when it's fun to watch again.

Nate said...

While the offense wasn't there, I was glad to see Gardy put Mauer in the two spot over the weekend. Instead of sliding Morneau up a spot, I would really like to see him bat Young third to break up the lefties and righties. With managers so obsessed with the late inning match-ups, why not make that decision a little more difficult. I wouldn't mind seeing Delmon up against a lefty specialist in a crucial spot.

Anonymous said...

Who hit the ball worse Sunday, the Twins or Rory Mcilroy? said...

Give the some credit to the opponents' pitchers. The Twins faced some fantastic young arms (especially impressive is the A's lineup).

Nick N. said...

Brandon McCarthy? Meh.

eric helgason said...

If we weren't clearly in an offensive slump I might consider giving credit to the A's staff. They're nothing special.

Alex said...

I agree with trying Delmon out in the 3 spot if Mauer is moving up to the 2 spot. It would be a nice change up.

But generally, I think the Twins are missing a player who is an aggressive leader. No one in the clubhouse is going to raise his voice at his team to snap the team out of it. The leaders we have are all too nice to do something like that. And Gardy is just going to lay into his early 19th century folklore sayings over and over again. We don't need anyone to be an ass like AJ or Ozzie Guillen are, but someone to take charge!

Jack Steal said...


To be perfectly honest, you were right Alexi Casilla is a flop. However, I am still happy with the prospects we received in return for him. I think Hoey will be in the bullpen before long and Jacobson will help out in 2012.

If Trevor Plouffe could ever find a way to throw the ball to 1B consistently he could be our everyday SS. He is athletic enough, with a good arm, can hit for power, but just can't seem to make the adjustment. I would love to see them trade Revere, Morales, Tosoni or sombeody for Jose Reyes. He would be a long term solution.

Anonymous said...

Best edition in a long time!!

Matt Groff said...

I think the problem with this team all "slumping" right now is they get babied during spring training. Everyone had a little injury here or a bump there and no one played. We were told over and over again that Joe's swing would be fine, well he's hitting in the .200's and he looks lost on pitches that break out of the zone just as he did in the playoffs (watch the tape he strikes out on 2 sliders that are way out of the zone)

I don't think the bats got enough playing time, the only guy I saw everyday during the spring was Kubel, now the twins best hitter.

I also think a line-up change needs made. I don't like bunching up lefties together. I'd like to see opponents not be able to stack lefties against the twins. Perhaps the lineup should be:


With Nishi obviously you put him at #2 and Valencia at #8. I think Valencia is a decent #2, he puts the bat on the ball and has always been clutch. I think he'd be able to move span around into scoring position for Mauer and Morneau.

If we are looking at a team that isn't warmed up yet, and not ready to go then I think they are going to be fine, they will all get hot end of may early June and make a pre-ASB run. If we are looking at a team that just doesn't work anymore, then we should be very worried.